Assam polls: BJP’s rivals included 3 NDA constituents

Voters queue up to cast their votes at a polling station during the third phase of Assam Assembly elections, in Guwahati, on April 6, 2021.   | Photo Credit: PTI

More political parties are destined to end up as also-rans in Assam’s mandate 2021 compared to elections past. This list is likely to include three constituents of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) that put up candidates against “big brother” Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

The three-phase Assembly election that ended on April 6 saw 41 national, State and registered unrecognised parties battle it out. This excluded parties such as Rabha Joutha Mancha and Anchalik Gana Mancha, whose candidates contested under the BJP and the Congress symbols respectively.

While jailed activist Akhil Gogoi and other candidates of his party, Raijor Dal, contested as independents, there were a few parties such as Jimochayan (Deori) People’s Party and Adivasi National Party that chose not to contest but aligned with the Congress-led ‘Mahajot’ or grand alliance.

The total count of parties in the 2016 election was 36.

Some of the registered unrecognised parties that contested the 2016 poll skipped mandate 2021. These include the Akhil Bharat Hindu Mahasabha, the Bharat Vikas Morcha, the Jharkhand Disom Party, the Jai Maha Barath Party, the Jan Congress Party and the Rashtriya Pragati Party.

Some better-known parties such as the Shiv Sena and the Indian Union Muslim League were missing in action too.

Their spaces were apparently filled by some unfamiliar names such as the Asom Jana Morcha, the Bahujan Maha Party, the Bharatiya Tribal Party, the National Republican Congress, the Political Justice Party, the Rashtriya Ulama Council, the Swarna Bharat Party and the Voters’ Party International.

Some parties that debuted disastrously in 2016 mustered enough confidence to contest this time.

For instance, The New Road Map Party of India, whose five candidates forfeited deposit in 2016, fielded four more candidates this time. On the other hand, a similar result for the Bhartiya Rashtrawadi Party five years ago made it reduce the number of candidates from five to one this time.

But for parties such as the Bharatiya Gana Parishad (BGP), winning a seat is “just a matter of time”. This party catering mainly to Hindu Bengalis who feel betrayed by both the Congress and the BJP, fielded 15 candidates compared to 10 in 2016.

“Congress neglected us and the BJP created a rift in decades of peaceful coexistence between the Assamese and Bengali people by bringing in the Citizenship (Amendment) Act,” said BGP’s Sukanta Mazumdar, who contested the Dispur Assembly seat against incumbent BJP legislator Atul Bora.

The BGP’s hope of causing an upset is derived from the performance of its candidate Ajay Kumar Ray, who lost the Bijni seat narrowly to Kamal Shing Narzary of Bodoland People’s Front in 2016.

But the focus beyond the three primary alliances – the BJP-headed Mitrajot (friends’ group), the Congress-led Mahajot and the regional front of the Assam Jatiya Parishad-Raijor Dal – is expected to be on three NDA constituents that went it alone, even against the BJP.

The Janata Dal (United) contested 33 seats, the most among the three allies of the BJP followed by Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad A. Sangma’s National People’s Party with 11 and Union Minister Ramdas Athawale’s Republican Party of India (Athawale) with seven.

Among the seven that the RPI (Athawale) fielded was Krishnamani Das, one of the youngest candidates this time at 26 years. Her key opponent for the Patacharkuchi seat: State BJP president Ranjeet Kumar Dass.

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Printable version | Oct 26, 2021 9:45:45 PM |

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